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Midwestern University’s Chicago College of Optometry Graduates First Class

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Midwestern University’s Chicago College of Optometry Graduates First Class

Midwestern University celebrated the graduation of the inaugural class of students from the Chicago College of Optometry (CCO) in May. The students earned a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree following an intensive four-year program where they learned to diagnose, treat and manage injuries and diseases of the eye and visual system.

“I feel extremely well-prepared for my future career in optometry. The university has all the newest technology, so we can gain experience and provide the best care for patients,” said Class President Sanjana Shashidhar (CCO 2021). “The scope of optometric practice is constantly expanding, and Midwestern is growing with the profession. The best part about CCO is the enthusiasm of faculty members for teaching and precepting within their specialties. Because of this, I think I am well-equipped to handle everything from routine eye exams to ocular emergencies,” she added. 

The inaugural class was comprised of 62 students representing 18 different states and Canada. Throughout their education, they enjoyed the opportunity to work with faculty mentors in state-of-the-art facilities and received the guidance they needed to successfully provide care to the community. During their last two years of study, students gained firsthand experience at various clinical sites including the Midwestern University Eye Institute. 

“One of my favorite things about CCO has been the close community we’ve been able to cultivate with not only each other as a class, but with our professors. I loved having several different mentors who not only helped us with classwork but offered study tips, helped us with skills in the lab during the weekends, and really made sure we were on track,” said Tyler Mathenia (CCO 2021). “I feel like the CCO faculty and staff took a genuine interest in our wellbeing and went to extra lengths to make sure we were equipped with what we needed and had every question answered, no matter the topic.”

Optometry students were also encouraged to join in the Midwestern University tradition of providing community service to those in need. “My favorite community service event was for Remote Area Medical in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Over a two-day period, hundreds of people received systemic health screenings, dental procedures and vision exams. Not only did I get the benefit of building relationships with my classmates, but I was also able to sharpen my skills by helping people who could not otherwise afford the care,” said Lauren Evans (CCO 2021). “I learned the importance of treating the whole patient and saw first-hand how uncontrolled systemic conditions like diabetes can affect the eyes,” she added.

Prior to starting their healthcare careers, the CCO inaugural class joined their fellow Midwestern University students in a virtual graduation ceremony in May. “As an inaugural class during a pandemic, the CCO Class of 2021 has faced many challenges. They have shown tremendous fortitude and grace under pressure during the past four years. I am proud of who they have become as a class and as individuals. It has been my honor to accompany them on this journey,” said Melissa Suckow, OD, FAAO, Dean, Chicago College of Optometry.


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